All New This Winter: Chopped Canada, Chef in Your Ear, Sugar Showdown and More

With the New Year right around the corner, we can’t help but celebrate a batch of brand new shows! Get ready to welcome back your favourites and find new ones with our exciting season filled with lots of talent, competition, inspiration and drool-worthy recipes. Ready, set, go!

Chopped Canada

Chopped Canada is back with a new batch of talented chefs vying to show off their skills and be crowned champion! With new host Brad Smith and baskets of new ingredients, we can’t wait to see what creative dishes chefs will come up with. Watch the fun unfold Saturdays at 9 E/P beginning January 9, 2016. Click here for schedule information.

Chef in Your Ear

The excitement continues as expert chefs help clueless cooks create classic dishes from scratch in Chef in Your Ear. The pressure is on and so are the headphones, as frustrated chefs try to teach top-notch cooking skills from another room. Catch all the excitement and blunders starting January 4 at 10 E/P. Click here to get recipes from the show.

Top Chef

Top Chef kicks off 2016 with a high-stakes challenge. Competitors arrive in Palm Springs where they’re tasked with catering a wedding for 25 couples. Catch the action January 7 at 10 E/P then watch a supersized version of the episode online January 8. There’s even more exclusive episodes online with our web series, Last Chance Kitchen. Click here for schedule information.

Simply Nigella

Nigella Lawson brings her paired down approach to cooking with simple, stress-free dishes that bring back the pleasure of cooking. Catch Nigella’s quick and calm recipes starting January 9 at 1:30 pm ET. Click here for schedule information for Simply Nigella.

Patricia Heaton’s Parties

Actress Patricia Heaton is back in front of the camera, this time sharing her best tips, trick and recipes for entertaining. Catch her Saturdays starting January 9 at 11:30 am ET. Click here for schedule information.

A group of extremely talented junior chefs take over the Chopped kitchen for another season of unforgettable dishes and healthy competition. See what these energetic kitchen prodigies have in store as a new season of Chopped Junior kicks off January 5 at 8 E/T. Click here for schedule information.

Sugar Showdown

Celebrate all things sweet with Sugar Showdown! This lively competition that pits expert bakers against one another to see who can create the tastiest confections. The rotating panel of judges includes Harry Eastwood, Zane Caplansky and Elizabeth Falkner to name a few. Tempt your sweet tooth with this fun and tasty show starting with back-to-back episodes January 7 at 6 E/P. Click here for schedule information.

They’re young, but these pint-sized bakers are ready to show off their big talent! Eight expert bakers will use their creativity and skill to bake delectable desserts in order to impress hosts Duff Goldman and Valerie Bertinelli. Catch all their creativity of the Kids Baking Championship starting January 10 at 8 E/P. Click here for schedule information.

Join Giada as she returns to her roots to explore the bounty and beauty of Italy. Travel along with Giada as she revisits family, friends and the food that inspire her life’s work. Taste the flavours of Italy January 6 at 11am ET. Click here for schedule information.

10 Best Ski Resort Restaurants in Canada

It’s easy to work up an appetite after an entire day (or even just a morning) out on the slopes. So slip into some furry boots, zip up your jacket, and head over to one of these great ski resort restaurants found across Canada to indulge in some delicious food and drink.



Araxi (Whistler, BC)

After a quick change out of your ski attire, you’ll feel right at home at Araxi’s oyster bar or more formal dining room. Expertly prepared sustainable seafood is the name of the game at one of Whistler’s premier eateries. Try a meaty sturgeon steak with buffalo ricotta gnocchi, or seared west coast scallops with pine nuts and roasted rutabaga as you watch the snow fall gently through the window.

The Brewhouse (Whistler, BC)

With two levels, ample seating, loads of beer on tap and lively crowds, there’s no way you’ll walk through the doors of Brewhouse and not have a good time. Pop in with a friend for a pint and wood-fired pizza, or bring the whole family because this place fits the bill for just about anyone.

Eagle's Eye

Eagle’s Eye

Eagles Eye at Kicking Horse Mountain (Golden, BC)

When you qualify as the highest elevation restaurant in the entire country, jaw-dropping views are expected. You’ll be awestruck not only by your surroundings at Kicking Horse Ski Resort, but even more by the food; dinner options include like duck cassoulet with boar bacon, and wagyu beef and lobster tail accompanied by a truffled yam purée.


Eagle’s Nest Canadian Bistro

Eagle’s Nest Canadian Bistro (Sunshine Village, AB)

In the past few years, Sunshine Village has revamped their culinary offerings, including Eagle’s Nest at Sunshine Village, Alberta. From seared foie gras with a red wine reduction and toasted brioche to sturgeon caviar and buckwheat blinis, you’ll soon realize that this spot is a step above typical ski hill eateries.

The Globe Cafe and Tapas Bar

The Globe Cafe and Tapas Bar

The Globe Cafe and Tapas Bar (Big White, BC)

This two-part space that’s part casual coffee bar and part Spanish-inspired restaurant is a great place to unwind midday or après-ski on the beautiful mountain of Big White. Sharing plates of patatas bravas, roasted heirloom carrots and empanadas are nice and filling, without making you feel stuffed. End your meal with their tabletop s’mores platter made up of chocolate, graham crackers and house-made marshmallows (and a little fire to roast them on) — because that’s the deliciously right thing to do.

Kaytoo (Blue Mountain, ON)

Though you won’t find any grand mountain ranges in Ontario, you will find Blue Mountain, a popular winter destination that’s perfect for a weekend of wintery fun. Geared towards a younger demographic, head to Kaytoo for a casual lunch or early dinner of burgers and nachos, before the DJs start spinning and the place gets packed at night.

The Observatory on Grouse Mountain

The Observatory on Grouse Mountain

The Observatory on Grouse Mountain (North Vancouver, BC) t

Some people love to do the “Grouse grind” during the summer, hiking up this mountain across the water from the Vancouver city centre. But come winter, it’s more seasonally appropriate to be wisked up to the top for some grub. This spot can arguably be a little touristy, but the view of the heart of Vancouver — especially later in the evening when the city sparkles in the night — is worth the trouble.

Sawyer’s Nook (Lake Louise, AB)

Located on the back side of this popular Alberta winter destination, you’ll find casual comfort food like homemade bison meatloaf, chicken pot pie and hearty chili in this cabin-like restaurant. After skiing all over Lake Louise in the morning, you might find it hard to leave the coziness of this spot once you sit down, unzip your jacket and just relax.

The Village Idiot Bar and Grill

The Village Idiot Bar and Grill

The Village Idiot Bar and Grill (Revelstoke, BC)

Although this bar isn’t within skiing distance from the mountain trails, it certainly has a lot of charm; with seat backs made out of old skis, tasty burgers and plenty of friendly mountain town folk, this place is fun through-and-through. If you’re a fan of down and dirty pizzas like I am, you need to order the “Bacon Double Cheeseburger”. Yes, it’s a burger with essentially all the toppings you’d expect to come on a burger and it’s oh, so good.

Ya’Oooo Pizza Bar (Mont Tremblant, QC

Don’t let the name fool you — Ya’Oooo is about as far away from the Rocky Mountains of Alberta, located in the village at the base of Mont Tremblant. Swing by after your last run to hit up their happy hour, or bring the whole family in for dinner. Everyone can agree on pizza, right?

The Globe Cafe and Tapas Bar

The Globe Cafe and Tapas Bar

brunch ideas for kids

10 Ideas for a Kid-Friendly Brunch

Make weekend mornings more fun with these 10 scrumptious brunch ideas that kids will adore.

Pancake Snowman

1. Snowmen Pancakes
When making pancakes drop three small circles of batter in your pan so each one touches. When you flip it over you will have a snowman pancake ready to be decorated. Serve with bacon strips (to use as a scarf), berries for decorating the face, chocolate chips for the jacket and marshmallows to look like snow.

2. Egg in a Star Toast
Toast a few slices of bread. Use a cookie cutter to cut out star shapes from the bread. Place the bread in a large frying pan with butter. Fry eggs in star holes. Serve with ketchup!

3. Christmas Morning Fruit Bowl
In a large bowl mix together a selection of green and red fruit – try strawberries, raspberries, pomegranate seeds, cherries, sliced kiwis, grapes, apples and pears. Mix orange and lime juice with citrus zest and toss with fruit.

4. Reindeer Waffles
Take a round waffle that has been toasted and cut a triangle into one end (this will be the chin of the reindeer). Use scrap pieces to place at the top of the waffle to look like antlers. Use blueberries for the reindeer eyes, strawberries for a Rudolph nose and maple syrup to serve!

5. Red & Green Fruit Muffins
Make your favourite muffin recipe and mix in ¼ cup Christmas sprinkles as well as a big handful of pomegranate seeds and one mashed banana. Once you scoop your muffin batter into the tins, top with a mixture of red and green sprinkles.

6. Festive Fruit Parfaits
In tall glasses layer up yogurt, berries and granola to create a healthy, festive breakfast. Start by adding a layer of vanilla yogurt, topped with a layer of granola, sprinkle in some raspberries and blueberries and top with a small handful of yogurt. Continue layering until the glasses are full.

7. Santa Claus Strawberry Hats
Use strawberries and whipped cream to make mini Santa Claus hats. Clean and hull your strawberries. Dip the hulled end of the strawberry in cream and place on a plate or on top of brownies, muffins or pancakes. Place another dollop of cream on the pointed end of the strawberry to complete the Santa hat.

8. Cookie Cutter Pancakes
Use your favourite cookie cutter to make pancakes. Simply butter your pan and place the cookie cutter in the melted butter. Pour batter into the cookie cutter and wait until one side has set. Push the pancake out of the cutter to flip. Continue with a variety of shapes and sizes. Serve with maple syrup and sprinkles!

9. Christmas Fruit Tree
Use a large platter or cutting board to spread out chopped fruit in the shape of a large Christmas tree. Use sliced kiwis, green grapes and apples to look like the tree. Use red berries like raspberries or strawberries to string across the tree like lights. Top with a pineapple star! Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.

10. Red & Green Christmas Morning Smoothie
Make a layered smoothie by first making a red berry smoothie using milk, yogurt, raspberries, strawberries and a banana. Set aside and mix your green smoothie using milk, yogurt, celery, spinach and apples. Layer your red and green smoothies in tall glasses and serve with straws.







Get Your Food Fix with Our Delicious Holiday Marathons

Snuggle up with a cup of hot cocoa and indulge in your favourite food shows! Starting December 25th, we’ll be running holiday marathons all the way through to the New Year. We’ve got a terrific lineup featuring our best hosts, shows and holiday specials, so make sure you claim the remote before someone else does!


Cake Wars: Christmas
From Frozen and Charlie Brown themed cakes to the ultimate gingerbread house, satisfy your inner baker with six back-to-back episodes on Friday, December 25th starting at 9 am E/T. Click here for schedule information.


Holiday Baking Championship
We’re giving you the best Christmas present ever: All the sweet episodes of Holiday Baking Championship are playing back to back on Friday, December 25th beginning at 3 pm E/T. Click here for schedule information.


Chopped Canada Teen Tournament
In case you missed the epic battles and ultimate defeat in the grand finale of Chopped Canada Teen Tournament, watch talented Canadian teens impress the celeb judges starting at 5 pm E/T on Saturday, December 26th! Click here for schedule information.


Cutthroat Kitchen
If you can’t get enough of humorous host Alton Brown and his epic cooking competitions, watch four entertaining episodes of Cutthroat Kitchen starting at 9 am E/T and five action-packed episodes of Cutthroat Kitchen: Superstar Sabotage starting at 7 pm E/T, back to back on Sunday, December 27th. Click here for schedule information.

Chopped EP 2401

What do sitcom moms, rock stars with a passion for cooking and college students all have in common? They’ll each make an appearance on your TV screen when you tune in to the all-day marathon of Chopped, starting at 9 am E/T on Tuesday, December 29th. Click here for schedule information.


Chef In Your Ear
Watch the disasters (and successes) unfold in compelling battles between expert chefs and their clueless cooks with back-to-back episodes starting at 10 am E/T on Wednesday, December 30th. Click here for schedule information.



Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and You Gotta Eat Here!
Indulge in all the greasy, cheesy, bacon-y goodness you want with an all-day marathon of You Gotta Eat Here! and Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives comfort food specials starting at 9 am E/T on Thursday, December 31st. Click here for schedule information for Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, and click here for You Gotta Eat Here!.


Guy’s Grocery Games
Make your way to flavourtown with five fun and tasty episodes of Guy’s Grocery Games starting at 9 am E/T and the recent Guy’s Grocery Games: Tournament of Champions at 6 pm E/T on Saturday, January 2nd. Click here for schedule information.

Check out our Schedule Page for more information on show times.

10 Delicious Ways to Dress Up Mashed Potatoes

With that big holiday dinner fast approaching, ask yourself this: are you getting tired of serving the same, boring old mashed potatoes each year? If you answered in the affirmative, you won’t go wrong with these mouth-watering recipes for mashed potatoes that will raise the bar at any holiday feast.


1. Baked Mashed Potatoes with Parmesan Cheese and Bread Crumbs
Giada De Laurentiis adds bread crumbs and plenty of salty, melted Parmesan cheese to top this baked mashed potato masterpiece.

2. French Potato Purée
Superbly sophisticated, Laura Calder’s recipe puts a sensational spin on mashed potatoes with this creamy purée that will dazzle adult taste buds with its subtle complexity of flavours.

3. Crème Fraiche Mashed Potatoes
Anna Olson adds green onions, garlic and thick crème fraiche to these chunky mashed potatoes that make an ideal accompaniment for just about any main.

4. Garlic and Parsley Mashed Potatoes
Fresh, aromatic garlic is lightly sautéed in butter or margarine, combining with fresh parsley for a flavour-packed variation on the comfort-food classic.

5. Grandma’s Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes
A time-honoured recipe from his grandmother, Michael Smith serves up this mouth-watering version of mashed potatoes that boasts golden-brown butter as its key ingredient, with just a touch of nutmeg to enhance the rich flavour.

6. Lynn’s Lobster Mashed Potatoes
“Opulent” doesn’t even begin to describe Lynn Crawford’s sumptuous recipe, with sweet, tender chunks of lobster tail mixed into buttery mashed potatoes for a decadent side dish that’s practically a meal in itself.

7. Horseradish Mashed Potatoes
You’ll be amazed at how adding just a bit of horseradish to mashed potatoes can add a zesty zip that takes this reliable side dish to new heights.

8. Grainy Mustard Mashed Potatoes
Fresh thyme and spicy whole-grain mustard add some deliciously powerful flavour to this kicked-up mashed potato recipe from Tyler Florence.

9. Baked Mashed Potatoes with Pancetta, Parmesan Cheese and Breadcrumbs
Smoky pancetta bacon is the secret weapon in this unbelievably flavourful variation of mashed potatoes that’s certain to satisfy any crowd.

10. Cheddar Bacon Mashed Potatoes
Imagine a bacon cheeseburger combined with mashed potatoes and you get the idea behind this creative recipe that adds the unmistakable flavours of crispy bacon and sharp cheddar.


Meet Chopped Canada Teens’ Four Finalists


It’s no surprise that Chopped Canada Teens’ top contestants can cook. But when we asked our four finalists about their kitchen heroes, culinary ambitions and the ingredients they’d put in a mystery basket, their answers gave us hope for the future of Canadian cuisine. Keep your eye on these talented kids, because we expect delicious things from them in years to come.

Yohannes Asres Chopped Canada Teen Tournament

Yohannes Asres
Seventeen-year-old Yohannes Asres, from Toronto, ON, credits the culinary program at Thistletown Collegiate, run by Chopped Canada Season 2 champion, Keith Hoare, for keeping him steady during a somewhat turbulent adolescence. The competitive streak Yohannes developed playing football translates to his kitchen skills, and he’s already placed high in several culinary contests. Thanks to his mom, Yohannes has a flair for Ethiopian cuisine; he hopes to use the winnings to send her to Israel.

Top tip Yohannes learned on Chopped Canada TeensDon’t use Boston bib lettuce as a plate. In the first round, Yohannes used Boston bib lettuce as a vessel. “It kind of just wilted,” he admits. “[The judges] told me I should have chiffonaded it and sprinkled it on top.”
The skill Yohannes wants to master: Cooking meat. Temperature and timing are essential, says Yohannes. He wants to know he can ace them in a stressful kitchen environment.
The chef Yohannes looks up to: Marcus Samuelsson. “He’s Ethiopian,” says Yohannes. “I can relate to the food he makes and how he is.”
Where you’ll see Yohannes in 10 years: At his restaurant. “Ten years from now I am hoping to be opening my own restaurant,” says the budding chef.
What’s in Yohannes’ mystery basket: Chicken, licorice, injera and potato.

Irelyn daCosta Chopped Canada Teen Tournament

Irelyn daCosta
The 13-year-old Mississauga, ON native credits her mom, who runs a café, for inspiring her to cook and bake. One of five kids, Irelyn says family support helps her compete; she hopes her creative flair for cakes and baking will take her far in the tournament. Irelyn plans to use the prize money to pay for schooling and to purchase supplies for her neighbourhood baking business.

The best thing Irelyn got from a Chopped Canada Teens judge: A job offer. “Susur Lee said when I’m old enough, I can come and work in his restaurant with him,” says Irelyn. “That’s pretty cool.”
The technique Irelyn wants to learn: Making ice cream. “I want to learn how to make ice cream with an ice cream machine,” she says.
The food pro Irelyn admires: Buddy Valastro. “[He] isn’t really a chef but he cooks, and I look up to him,” says Irelyn. “He has a bunch of kids and that’s what I want when I’m older. He’s also really popular on TLC — he has his own cake decorating show and he’s really, really successful. That would be really, really cool if I could be like him when I’m older.”
Where you’ll see Irelyn in 10 years: On Food Network Canada. “Ten years from now I want to be running my own restaurant and have my own show on Food Network,” says the teen cook.
What’s in Irelyn’s mystery basket: Lamb, edible flowers, sweet or purple potatoes and raspberry jam.

Justice Chea Chopped Canada Teen Tournament

Justice Chea
The Toronto, ON native grew up in the kitchen of her family’s Cambodian restaurant. Currently enrolled at Thistletown Collegiate, with Chopped Canada winner Keith Hoare, 17-year old Justice has travelled to Spain and France learning cultural dishes. Justice, who presently works at a steakhouse, hopes her well-rounded skills and interests will help her win the grand prize and pay for schooling for her and her younger siblings.

What Justice learned on Chopped Canada TeensAppreciating food is the secret ingredient to success. “There are a lot of things that I remember from the [first round] that I wish that I could change,” admits Justice. “It keeps me up at night thinking that what I did, I could have done better. After the show I learned to appreciate food even more. I loved cooking and being on the show was a great experience but after the show, it just opened my eyes up to something even better. I wanted to learn more and how to cook better, to better myself.”
The skill Justice wants to improve: Meat prep. “I think something I could get better at would be butchering,” she says.
The chef Justice looks up to: Gordon Ramsay. “I just adore him,” she says, “He’s my favourite chef. I always watch him on TV and on YouTube. He’s so inspiring — the way he travels around the world and tries different foods and honestly isn’t afraid of anything.”
Where you’ll see Justice in 10 years: The world is her oyster. “I’m still trying to figure that out,” says Justice.
What’s in Justice’s mystery basket: Cotton candy, sausages, chocolate ice cream and chickpeas.

Emilia Augello Chopped Canada Teen Tournament

Emilia Augello
Unlike many kids her age, Emilia would rather spend her time and money collecting knives and gadgets than clothes and accessories. A perfectionist in the kitchen, Emilia hopes her Italian heritage and love of Asian flavours will be advantages in the competition. Emilia will split her prize money between buying a new gas stove and funding her education.

The best advice Emilia got from Chopped Canada Teens’ judges: Everything. “I liked all [the judges] and everything that they told me I could do better [in the first round] just encouraged me to try harder in the second round and salt my food more and taste more,” she says.
The skill Emilia wants to master: Baking. “I’m more of a savoury chef,” she admits. “Baking is harder for me.”
The chef Emilia admires: Alex Guarnaschelli. “She has a very sophisticated palate like me,” says Emilia. “It has to be perfect. I just like her attitude and her personality. Her style of food intrigues me a lot.”
Where you’ll see Emilia in 10 years: Cooking in Italy or Spain. “My dream would be to open my own restaurant or catering business,” she says. “I know that I would like to open my own restaurant and travel and try to go to cook in Spain and in Italy.”
What’s in Emilia’s mystery basket: Jumbo shrimp, coconut milk, rainbow carrots and a curry base. “It’s my signature dish,” says Emilia.

CC Teen Tournament Judges at Finale

Watch the Chopped Canada Teen Tournament Finale on Saturday at 9 E/P. Catch the action again in the Teen Tournament marathon on December 26th at 5pm ET.


Alton Brown's Turkey with Stuffing

Last-Minute Christmas Dinner Menu

You’ve checked everyone off your list, sent off all your holiday cards plus all your presents are wrapped and under the tree. Congrats! Now, what to make for Christmas dinner?

This season is so full of parties, entertaining and shopping, it can be easy to put off meal planning. If you haven’t nailed down your holiday menu yet, don’t stress, we’re here to help.
Whether you are looking for last-minute appetizers or quick side dishes, we have a slew of simple recipes that don’t take a lot of planning or time.

So find a pen and get ready to cross this last item off your to-do list.

Baked Brie

Baked Brie
Ina Garten knows how much of a crowd-pleaser cheese is. Pick up a wheel of brie at your grocery store, then just pop it in the oven for five minutes, drizzle with honey and get ready to impress your guests with this creamy, meltey appetizer.

Hot Spinach and Artichoke Dip
Frozen spinach and artichokes are your best friends for making this last-minute appetizer. Grab a baguette and serve thick slices alongside this thick, warm dip.

Speedy Cranberry Sauce
Have a food processor? Then you can make fresh cranberry sauce in five minutes. Yep, five minutes!

Citrus Haricots Vert

Citrus Haricots Verts
You can’t get much simpler than this easy green bean recipe. The fresh crunch of sautéed beans and aromatic oranges and grapefruit are a refreshingly light side that pairs well with richer dishes.

The Creamiest (and Easiest) Mashed Potatoes
Mashed potatoes are a foolproof side that everyone loves. But you can turn them up a notch by adding an easy pantry staple. A can of condensed cheddar cheese soup turns these potatoes from good to dreamy with the turn of a can opener.

Simple Oven-Baked Stuffing
If you prefer to cook your stuffing outside the bird, this recipe is for you. An easy way to dice veggies is to throw them in the food processor. You’ll save time and have evenly cut veggies in a few pulses. This recipe calls for fresh bread, so grab a loaf and get the kids to help you tear it into bite-sized pieces.

Alton Brown's Turkey with Stuffing

Turkey with Stuffing
Alton Brown’s turkey recipe is one of the quickest around. It helps that Alton uses the microwave to help pre-cook his stuffing and get everything nice and hot before popping the bird in the oven.
Just remember to give your turkey lots of time to thaw before you start cooking.

A quick way to thaw a frozen bird is by submerging it in cool water, while still in it’s packaging. Change the water every hour and expect it to take about hour for each pound of meat.

Mustard Crusted Pork Tenderloin
No time to defrost a bird? Forgo the turkey all together and make a moist, flavourful pork tenderloin. It is a budget-friendly way to feed a crowd and your guests will appreciate you switching up your menu.

Holiday Bark

Gingerbread Holiday Bark
Holiday bark is a breeze to make plus you can customize it with whatever sweets you have on hand. This recipe gives you a delicious gingerbread flavour but feel free to change up the nuts or add crushed candy canes to make chocolate mint bark instead. Then just snap into a rustic pieces for an instant treat guests can nibble on over coffee.

Berry Trifle
Trifles are a perfect last-minute dessert because you don’t have to make each element from scratch. This recipe calls for store-bought pound cake, which is the ultimate time-saver. Just layer in a large trifle dish or assemble in individual glasses for a stunning end to your holiday meal.

Michael Smith: Holiday Feast in Under 1 Hour

The most important thing about big holiday meals has nothing to do with food, says chef Michael Smith, host of Food Network Canada’s Chef Michael’s Kitchen and judge on the hit series Chopped Canada. “We have to remember that what’s on the table is not as important as who is at the table,” says Smith, father of three and an author of numerous cookbooks, including Family Meals and Back to Basics. Keeping this is mind will help the home chef avoid the perennial problem of spreading yourself thin attempting too many dishes. “You’re far better off doing a couple of things really well than a whole bunch of things sort of half-assed and stressed out,” he says.

If tradition demands a roast, try plating it differently than your mom did in the 1980s — with an update to portion size, too. Smith recently served a roast beef thinly sliced on generous beds of arugula accompanied by a chipotle-chimichurri sauce. “It doesn’t need to be this big honking piece of protein that we shouldn’t be eating in the first place. Maybe it’s just a few slices with a really cool condiment.”

At Smith’s house in Prince Edward Island, Christmas dinner includes his grandmother’s cranberry sauce and his mother’s plum pudding, but the family always serves one new dish to keep things interesting. Tip: Making a turkey? Whether or not you decide to get fancy by brining, smoking, barbecuing or elaborately stuffing your bird, there’s only one move that matters, says Smith: “Buy a thermometer and use it.” When a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 165°F, you’re done, regardless of how you got there.

Mustard Crusted Pork Tenderloin

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Serves:  2-4


4 Tbsp grainy mustard
2 Tbsp freshly minced sage
1 Tbsp freshly minced parsley
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
1 pork tenderloin
1 cup breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp canola oil

1. Place a cooling rack on top of a cookie sheet. Preheat oven to 425°F.
2. Combine mustard, sage and parsley along with salt and pepper in a small bowl.
3. Cut pork tenderloin in half width-wise; rub mustard mixture all over the pork. (Cutting it in half will make it easier to manage while you fry it.)
4. Spread breadcrumbs onto a plate and gently press the pork into the breadcrumbs mixture to coat on all sides.
5. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add butter and oil. When the butter stops foaming add the pork.
6. Cook the pork, turning gently to brown on all sides without losing the coating. Transfer to rack on cookie sheet.
7. Bake for 20 minutes or until the pork is cooked to an internal temperature of at least 155°F. (The temperature will continue to rise while it rests.)
8. Allow pork to rest for 10 minutes while lightly tented with aluminum foil.
9. Slice across the grain into 1 centimetre-wide slices and serve.

Colourful Cleansing Salad

Prep Time: 15 minutes



2 cups chopped kale
1 beet, grated
1 cup thinly sliced purple cabbage
½ cup chopped parsley
2 Tbsp chopped toasted walnuts or pecans (optional)

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
4 Tbsp lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard


Chop kale and massage it for 1 minute, to reduce size slightly and make more digestible. Combine in bowl with rest of ingredients.

Whisk ingredients together and drizzle over salad. Top with toasted pecans or walnuts.

Main: Platter, $88, Tea towel, $12 for 3, Side plate, $4, Gold-handled cutlery, $31 per place setting,
Salad: Napkin, $9, Serving utensils, $38 for set,
Story: Brandie Weikle. Photography: James Tse. Food styling: Ashley Denton. Prop styling: Carolyn Souch. Creative direction: Jessica Hotson (roast and salad).

How to Make Gingerbread Holiday Bark

Need inspiration for a tasty homemade holiday gift? This dark chocolate holiday bark packed with gingersnaps, ginger, pretzels, caramels, pistachios and cranberries has got something in it for everyone to enjoy.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Serves: 12


1/2 cup crumbled gingersnaps
1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger
1/4 cup crumbled salted pretzels
1/4 cup roughly chopped soft chewy caramels
1/4 cup roughly chopped pistachios
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 pound good quality dark chocolate, finely chopped (at least 70%)
1 ounce white chocolate, melted

1. Line a 9 x 13 inch metal baking pan with parchment paper so it overhangs the ends.
2. Combine gingersnaps, crystallized ginger, pretzels, caramels, pistachios and cranberries, and set aside.
3. Place dark chocolate in heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally, until melted. Remove from heat.
4. Pour chocolate onto the prepared pan and spread evenly. Sprinkle with gingerbread mixture. Drizzle melted white chocolate over bark. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until chocolate is set.
5. Remove from pan and peel off the parchment paper. Break the bark into pieces. Store in airtight container for up to 1 week.

– Substitute your favourite nuts and dried fruit for the pistachios and cranberries if desired.

Where to Buy Delicious and Adorable Holiday Cookies Across Canada

It’s not just the holiday season — it’s cookie season, too! It’s fun to make shortbread or gingerbread from scratch, but we don’t all have the time (or patience) so spend hours in the kitchen baking up a storm. Save yourself some stress and still impress your guests with these dazzling holiday cookies that you can pawn off as your own. Don’t worry, it can be our little secret.


Bakerbots Baking

Bakerbots Baking (Toronto, ON)

If you’re looking for beautifully decorated cookies in Toronto, Bakerbots is your one-stop shop. With vanilla, chocolate and ginger cookies as the base, you can get anything from cute snowflakes to custom designs to please anyone. Trust me, there’s nothing more satisfying than admiring a cute, little snowman cookie only to devour him later. If only their facial expressions could change from smile to shock with each bite…

Cookie Love (Edmonton, AB)

As the name implies, this little bakery doesn’t expend their energy on a diverse portfolio of sweets — cupcakes and pastries need not apply. With a myriad of freshly baked cookies, including chocolate-dipped shortbread and carrot cake cookies with cream cheese icing, there are a lot of tough decisions to be made at here.


Cookie Messenger

Cookie Messenger (Toronto, ON)

I’ve got to be honest; I didn’t know cookie bouquets were a thing until recently. Cookie messenger offers creative spins on a “bouquet,” packed with everything from gingerbread men to reindeer to bright blue, decorative (and edible) Hanukkah candles. If an ornate cookie bouquet isn’t your thing, maybe go for one of their ribbon-wrapped jars filled with traditional holiday baked goods.


Crave Cookies and Cupcakes

Crave Cookies and Cupcakes (Calgary, Edmonton and Saskatoon, SK)

It’s borderline impossible to walk into a Crave location in Western Canada and not leave with something sweet. The red velvet sparkle cookies (think gingersnaps, but approximately 100 times more delicious) will be a welcomed gift for any holiday party host or hostess. Oh, and their Snickerdoodles? Well, my friends, save those ones for yourself. You deserve it!

Decadent Desserts (Calgary, AB)

With more varieties of shortbread than you can shake a stick at, and a mix of biscotti, gingersnaps and chocolate chip cookies, Decadent has got your sweet tooth covered. Their uptown location makes it easily accessible, especially if you’re working downtown and want to pick up some tasty treats for the office.


High Tea Bakery

High Tea Bakery (Winnipeg, MB)

There’s no disputing it; the decorated cookies from High Tea are cuter than Justin Bieber circa 2010. I know, it seems impossible, but once you see the sweet attention to detail on each hand-decorated cookie, you’ll agree. Christmas trees, snowmen, heck, even custom cookie versions of the whole family, this spot has got it going on for this holidays!

Mrs. MacGregors (Pictou, NS)

December is a time when shortbread truly shines. When combined in perfect quantities and in the right hands, sugar, flour and butter makes for a cookie like no other. Throw in a few interesting ingredients to mix things up a bit and you have Mrs. MacGregors famous cookies. Having visited this quaint little café and bakery, to me, the best thing about Mrs. MacGregors isn’t the melt-in-your-mouth shortbread, but the melt-your-ice-cold-heart friendliness of owner, Helen Buchan.

Sweet Isabelle

Sweet Isabelle

Sweet Isabelle (Montreal, QC)

If you’re like me and have seen the vintage Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer claymation film approximately a million times over the years, you’ll appreciate Isabelle’s delightful holiday designs. Elves, penguins and reindeer are just a few of the designs you can admire, and then immediately sink your teeth into this holiday season.

Sugar Cookies and Confections

Sugar Cookies and Confections

Sugar Cookies and Confections (Vancouver, BC)

Although this company keeps things simple with their basic vanilla cookie recipe, you can request essentially any design imaginable. Santas, snowmen and snowflakes are obvious requests to make at this time of year, but nothing would be more timely and nonsensical than Darth Vader with a Santa hat on. Am I right?

Sugar Cookies and Confections

Sugar Cookies and Confections

Lynn Crawford Feature Image

Lynn Crawford’s 5 Holiday Cooking Mishaps to Avoid

From collapsing gingerbread houses to forgetting to thaw the turkey, family legends are built on holiday mistakes. At least there’s comfort in knowing that everyone experiences holiday cooking fails — even pros like Lynn Crawford.
The Great Canadian Cookbook host and Egg Farmers of Canada spokesperson has had her fair share of holiday mishaps and has learned to laugh them off.
“[In the] moment, they can be very stressful, but looking back they’re really comical, fun, hilarious and make great memories,” she says.
We caught up with Lynn to hear about some of the biggest holiday cooking disasters and her best tips to avoid them.

Lynn Crawford

1. Make sure your oven is big enough
The first time Lynn hosted her family for Christmas dinner, she was a young chef and eager to impress. Despite her planning, she didn’t realize that her turkey was too big for her apartment-sized oven, until it was too late.
“I had it in its roasting pan and I remember literally trying to shove it into the oven. It was a disaster,” Lynn says. Luckily, a kind neighbour with a larger oven came to her rescue.

2. Keep your expectations in check
There’s a lot of pressure to impress during the holidays, but trying  a new, elaborate dish can be a recipe for disaster. Stay in your comfort zone and give your tried and true recipes a chance to shine. You’ll feel more confident and chances are you’ll make fewer mistakes.

3. Pay attention to your ingredients
The classic mistake in a busy kitchen is mixing up salt and sugar. “As simple as that [may seem], it can be one of your biggest mishaps,” says Lynn. This common mistake can leave you with salty cookies and sweet stuffing. Make sure your containers are labelled correctly and that you slow down and pay attention when adding ingredients.

4. Keep animals away from the kitchen
The last thing you need is your dog chowing-down on your turkey or cat knocking over your perfect cookie tray. For their safety (and yours) keep your beloved pets away from hot ovens, boiling pots and sharp knives.

5. Remember to turn your oven on (and off!)
It sounds simple enough but most people have forgotten to turn on the oven. This simple slip-up can be a disaster if you realize it too late. Turning off the oven when you’re done is equally important. Leaving the broiler on can deliver a scorched bird or ruined sides dishes.

5 Gorgeous and Easy to Prepare Holiday Nibbles

Whether you’re hosting the office party or a neighbourhood drop-in, our superb spread of holiday bites has got you covered. From Thai-spiced chicken satays to Michael Smith’s famous shrimp cocktail, satisfy your guests in style.


Crostini with Sweet Pea Mash
Spinach and Prosciutto Party Wheels


Chicken Satays 
Michael Smith’s Shrimp Cocktail


Bal Anerson’s Spiced Eggplant Dip with Crudites and Flatbread

Photography: James Tse. Food Stylist: Adele Shaw. Prop Stylist: Carolyn Souch. Creative Direction: Jessica Hotson

Get more holiday recipes and tips here: The Kit Holiday Issue.


Give the Gift of Food to Community Food Centres Canada (CFCC)

Community kitchen participants at the Regent Park Community Food Centre in Toronto, Ontario (Photo: Regent Park CFC staff)

As we celebrate the holiday season with cookie exchanges, eggnog and festive goodies with family and friends, we’d also like to take a moment to celebrate the important campaign that Community Food Centres Canada (CFCC) is undertaking this holiday.

CFCC helps to support low-income communities by providing support to Community Food Centres across the country. Because of their efforts, individuals and families struggling with poverty, or mental or physical health issues have access to healthy meals and social support. Last year, over 54 percent of people said their physical health had improved as a result of these services  and 70 percent of people said it helped improve their mental health. The programs have also helped to educate kids and adults on basic cooking skills and nutrition. Find out more about the impact  that CFCC programs has on people’s lives here.

Kids participating in the After School Program at The Table Community Food Centre in Perth, Ontario (Photo: David Zimmerly)

This holiday season, CFCC hopes to raise $75,000 to help support and empower community members. We know that good food has the power to transform lives, and every donation makes a difference.

The CFCC holiday campaign ends December 31st, 2015. To find out more and to donate, visit for more details.

Happy Holidays!

5 clever ways to use frozen puff pastry

5 Clever Ways to Use Frozen Puff Pastry

Store-bought puff pastry is the ultimate freezer staple to have on hand to whip up quick and impressive treats in a pinch. And now that it’s sold in pre-rolled sheets, you don’t need flour or a rolling pin to get baking.

From savoury snacks to guest-worthy treats, puff pastry can do it all! So try one of these 5 clever ways to use it next time guests drop by.

Savoury Tarts

Thin Mint and Dark Chocolate Pastries
Arrange racks in top and bottom thirds of oven. Preheat to 400F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.

Beat 1 egg with 1 Tbsp water in a small bowl until combined. Slice 9 thin dark chocolate mints, such as After Eight, diagonally in half. Unroll 450-g pkg thawed puff pastry sheets. Using a 2 ½-in. round cookie cutter, cut out 9 rounds per sheet. Arrange rounds on baking sheets.

Brush each round evenly with egg wash, then arrange 1 piece chocolate mint on one half of each round. Fold other half over chocolate mint, pressing edges down to seal well. Brush tops with remaining egg wash.

Bake in top and bottom thirds of oven, switching halfway through, until golden and puffed, 20 min. Dust generously with icing sugar before serving.

Mini Cinnamon Rolls
Brush thawed puff pastry sheets generously with melted butter. Sprinkle evenly with granulated sugar and cinnamon. Roll tightly from the bottom to the top to form a log. Freeze until slightly firm. Slice each log into 1-inch rounds. Arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet, cut-side down, and bake, following package directions, until golden and puffed. Drizzle with a glaze or top with cream cheese frosting.

Buttery Cheese Straws
Brush thawed puff pastry sheets with egg wash. Sprinkle with coarsely grated cheese, such as Gruyère or Parmesan, gently pressing down to adhere. Cut into ¾-inch strips, then twist both ends in the opposite direction to form a straw. Arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake, following package directions, until golden and puffed.

Cheaters Gingerbread Men
Using a small gingerbread man cookie cutter, cut out men from thawed puff pastry sheets. Arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake, following package directions, until golden and puffed. Whisk icing sugar with a touch of milk and ground ginger to make a glaze. Drizzle over cooled gingerbread men and let stand until dry to the touch.

Savoury Tarts
Brush thawed puff pastry sheets with egg wash. Sprinkle evenly with cheese, such as sliced mozzarella or crumbled goats cheese, then top with vegetables, such as caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms or spinach. Sprinkle with fresh herbs. Fold over edges, creating a 1-in. border. Brush border with additional egg wash. Arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake, according to package directions, until puffed and golden.

Mark McEwan on How to Host Like a Pro

Whether it’s a handful of close friends or the whole office crew, entertaining is a stressful undertaking. Chopped Canada judge Mark McEwan tells us how to put the fun back into holiday hosting.


Stocking the Bar
When it comes to buying booze, McEwan recommends playing it safe by over-stocking. “The good thing is that alcohol doesn’t go bad,” he says with a laugh. “As long as you don’t open them, you can return bottles to the LCBO.” He estimates that the average person will drink three glasses of wine at a holiday party, and if there is a cocktail on offer, plan on a little more than one each. He also urges hosts to let guests drink at their own pace. “Don’t push it on them. Let them prompt you.”

Bubbly Greeting
Since preparing cocktails can be quite time-consuming, McEwan suggests premixing a simple libation — something whisky-based for winter is best — and setting it out on ice with lowball glasses and a bowl of jumbo ice cubes. But ideally he recommends greeting guests with a glass of champagne or sparkling wine. “It’s incredibly simple, incredibly festive, and the majority of people really enjoy it. I love a little bubbly.”

Simple Start
For nibbles during the cocktail hour, McEwan relies on a cheese-and-salumi board served with toasted baguette rounds brushed with extra-virgin olive oil. “It’s all set up ahead of time and ready to go.” For an easy appetizer, it’s hard to go wrong with a mushroom purée soup. “Just sprinkle it with a few chives and you’ve got an inexpensive first course that appears more luxurious than it is.”

In a Stew
To feed a crowd on a budget, McEwan suggests some type of stew, such as veal with root vegetables or a beef bourguignon. “You make it in the morning and it gets better as it sits. Serve it with soft polenta, which you can also make ahead, and you have no work to do at dinner time.” If your fridge is getting full, he suggests using an often overlooked backup. “Winter is great because your garage is a refrigerator.”

Think Like a Chef
Getting organized before a party goes beyond cooking ahead. McEwan says to think through every step of every process and get it ready. “When guests arrive, you don’t want to be reaching for a pot and filling it with water. That pot should be on the stove, the water salted and hot, and any utensils you need beside it. When a chef sets up their station, they live and die by their mise en place. Get into the same frame of mind for a party, and you’ll look like a pro.”

Chopped Canada Teen Tournament airs Saturdays at 9 E/P. Watch the new season of Chopped Canada premiering on January 9th at 9 E/P.

Get more holiday recipes and tips here: The Kit Holiday Issue.


A Gorgeous Bûche de Noël Using Store-Bought Cake

For those unfamiliar with this favourite French Canadian sweet, Bûche de Noël is a classic dessert enjoyed during the festive season. Essentially, it’s a roulade cake decorated to look like a tree log. Making it from scratch can be time-consuming, so we’ve created this cheater’s version using ready-made Swiss rolls. Just a handful of ingredients can turn a simple store-bought dessert into a delicious centrepiece. Best of all. it comes together in a snap!


Prep Time: 15 min
Total Time: 15 min
Yield: 10 servings


1 large store-bought chocolate Swiss roll
1 small store-bought chocolate Swiss roll

Chocolate Ganache:
1/4 cup whipping cream
100g semi-sweet chocolate chips

Candy Mushrooms:
4 vanilla-flavoured Tootsie rolls
Cocoa powder, if desired

Shredded coconut
Icing sugar



1. Place the large Swiss roll on a platter or serving board. Cut one end of the small Swiss roll diagonally, then place the cut side anywhere against the large roll.
2. To make ganache, microwave whipping cream for 15 to 30 sec until cream is hot. Pour over chocolate chips in a bowl. Stir until chocolate is melted. Set chocolate aside to cool slightly.
3. To make candy mushrooms, microwave Tootsie roll candies for 5 to 7 seconds, just to make them pliable. Flatten 3 candies into flat discs to resemble mushroom tops. Divide the last candy into 3 pieces and roll into a stem. Using a bit of water as the glue, stick discs on top of stems. You can also dust the tops with a bit of cocoa powder to give them some colour.
4. Spread cooled chocolate all over top and sides of cake. You can be a little bit messy so it looks more like tree bark.
5. Pour some shredded coconut around the cake to resemble some snow. Sift a little icing sugar over the cake. Arrange candy mushrooms around the cake.
6. Slice and enjoy!


Lynn Crawford’s Classic Holiday Menu

The holidays are nearly here and if you haven’t started planning the big meal, don’t fret! We met up with Great Canadian Cookbook host Lynn Crawford to find out what menu she has planned for her family and friends.

This year, everyone’s pitchin’ in with the prep — lucky them that they’ll get to test drive Lynn’s brand new kitchen, set to be complete by Christmas (fingers crossed!).

For Lynn, Christmas is all about preserving tradition and that’s when her roots really show. Drawing from her parent’s Scottish upbringing, Lynn makes sure her mom and dad’s dishes are front and centre.

“The majority of recipes you cherish are those that have been passed down from generation to generation. There’s so much history and so much love,” Lynn says.

Keeping it classic

With a soft spot for tradition,  it’s no surprise that Lynn is serving a classic roast turkey for Christmas Eve dinner. For side dishes, she’s chosen fluffy mashed potatoes and creamed Brussels sprouts covered in crispy bacon.

Herbed Roast Turkey and Roasted Onion Gravy

Herbed Roast Turkey and Roasted Onion Gravy

Creamed Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts and Parmesan

Creamed Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts and Parmesan

Of course, no traditional holiday menu would be complete without the stuffing. And there’s only one recipe served in her home, year-after-year.

“My father’s stuffing – He makes the best stuffing and we’ve kept that tradition going.”

While she’s a lover of tradition, there’s one dish that’s never the same on her holiday table: Cranberry sauce. “We always try a different cranberry sauce every year to mix it up,” says Lynn, adding that some family members really like to push the limits with their creations.

Try Lynn’s Charred Onion Cranberry Relish.

Lynn’s Charred Onion Cranberry Relish

“Holidays are a great time to try a new recipe,” she advises. This year, Lynn is adding a Cranberry Gingerbread Cheesecake to her menu, with hopes that it will become a new tradition.

Cranberry Gingerbread Cheesecake

Cranberry Gingerbread Cheesecake


Cranberry Muffins to Cozy up with This Winter

By Barbara Mayhew

Cranberries grow in Prince Edward Island and are a versatile food. I remember as a small child going with my mother and grandmother to pick wild cranberries. In the fall, these berries were highly sought after. We used them fresh in cranberry sauce and froze them for use over the winter months.

The cranberries used in this recipe were grown in Farmington, near Souris, in the eastern part of P.E.I. A visit to Mikita Farms to watch the wet-harvesting of the cranberries got my creative juices flowing and inspired this recipe. I like to know where my food comes from, and being able to watch the cranberry harvest and then stop by the stand at the farm gate to buy the berries, meant I was able to use the freshest local produce available.

Cranberry-Banana Eggnog Muffins, Courtesy of Barbara Mayhew,, Charlottetown

These muffins combine cranberries with eggnog – two classic winter flavours.


Prep time: 20 minutes
Baking time: 45 minutes
Yield: 12-14 standard-size muffins

1 cup (250 mL) cranberries (fresh or frozen), coarsely chopped
1½ Tbsp (20 mL) sugar
1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour
1 cup (250 mL) whole-wheat flour
⅔ cup (150 mL) lightly packed brown sugar
¼ cup (50 mL) rolled oats
1½ Tbsp (20 mL) baking powder
½ tsp (2 mL) baking soda
½ tsp (2 mL) salt
½ tsp (2 mL) cinnamon
¼ tsp (1 mL) nutmeg
⅛ tsp (0.5 mL) allspice
1 Tbsp (15 mL) grated orange rind
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
¾ cup (175 mL) eggnog
½ cup + 1 tbsp (125 mL + 15 mL) vegetable oil
⅓ cup (75 mL) mashed banana
¼ cup (50 mL) orange juice
2 Tbsp (30 mL) maple syrup
1½ tsp (7 mL) vanilla
¼ cup + 2 tbsp (80 mL) all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp (45 mL) brown sugar
½ tsp (2 mL) cinnamon
3 Tbsp (45 mL) butter
2 Tbsp (30 mL) chopped pecans

1. In medium bowl, combine flour, brown sugar and cinnamon.
2. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in pecans. Set aside.
1. Preheat oven to 450°F (230ºC). Grease muffin tin, including top of tin.
2. In small bowl, sprinkle chopped cranberries with 1½ tbsp sugar. Toss lightly to coat cranberries. Set aside.
3. In large bowl, combine all-purpose and whole-wheat flours, brown sugar, rolled oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and orange rind. Mix well. Set aside.
4. In liquid measure, stir together egg, eggnog, oil, mashed banana, orange juice, maple syrup and vanilla. Whisk together.
5. Pour wet ingredients into well in centre of dry ingredients. Stir just until dry ingredients are barely incorporated. Do not overmix. Gently fold in the sugared cranberries.
6. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin, filling almost to top. Sprinkle with streusel mixture.
7. Transfer muffins to oven and immediately reduce heat to 400ºF (200ºC). Bake 20 to 22 minutes, or until muffins are just firm to the touch and a cake tester inserted into the centre of a muffin comes out clean.
8. Let muffins rest in muffin tins for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack.

My Island Bistro Kitchen
My blog focuses on local Maritime foods and beverages, with a particular concentration on those produced in P.E.I. In addition to sharing my own recipes, I write stories about local food and beverage producers and feature their products in recipes that I share on my blog.

Holiday Party Wines Under $15

Indulge in exquisite wines this holiday season — but without the hefty price tag.


1. Villa Sandi Il Fresco Prosecco, from $14
This great-value Italian sparkler outperforms most of the competition on the Prosecco shelf. It’s fresh, clean and bright with notes of lemon and pear, and a frothy mousse. Chill well and pour as a guestgreeting aperitivo with mixed nuts, prosciutto- wrapped grissini, and smoked salmon canapés.

2. Cono Sur Bicicleta Chardonnay 2014, from $10
Take one sip of this terrific unoaked Chardonnay from Chile’s Central Valley, and the first thing that will come to your mind is “Wow—I can’t believe this is only 10 bucks!” An outright steal at this price, it offers pineapple aromas, a silky texture and riveting acidity. It’s excellent with shellfish, including the ubiquitous holiday shrimp ring.

3. Errazuriz Estate Series Pinot Noir 2013, from $14
While most New World Pinots go for fruit over finesse, this bottle from Chile’s Aconcagua Valley draws you in with its old-school charm. Tart, herbal and spicy, it continues to seduce with cranberry flavours and a long, lingering finish. Pour with beet and ricotta crostini, stuffed mushrooms, and mini cheeseburgers.

4. The Wolftrap Syrah Mourvèdre Viognier 2014, from $14
From South Africa’s Boekenhoutskloof—say that five times fast—this consistently delicious red has a small splash of Viognier, a white grape that amps up the aromatics. It’s a full-bodied wine, bursting with cassis and cocoa, juicy acidity and a beguilingly smoky finish. Serve with little beef empanadas and spiced lamb chops.

Get more holiday recipes and tips here: The Kit Holiday Issue.

Coffee Crisp Cake Recipe Feature

How to Make a Coffee Crisp Cake

When it comes to iconic chocolate bars, there’s not one that’s more Canadian than Coffee Crisp. This crunchy milk chocolate bar with wafer and coffee-flavoured foam candy is a childhood favourite — and we’re turning it into  a party-worthy dessert! Layers of vanilla cake, creamy coffee icing and crispy wafer cookies add lots of texture to this cake, and the chocolate glaze is the finishing touch to making this dessert unbelievably delicious.

Coffee Crisp Cake Recipe

Coffee Crisp Cake

Prep Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours
Makes: 10 servings

1 store-bought vanilla loaf cake, or vanilla cake mix baked in a 9×5 inch loaf pan
2 x 150g cappucino or vanilla flavoured wafer cookies

Coffee Icing:
1/4 cup whipping cream
2 Tbsp instant coffee
1 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 cup unsalted butter
4 cups icing sugar

Chocolate Glaze:
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 Tbsp butter
2 x 100g milk chocolate bars, chopped

Coffee Crisp Cake Recipe 1

1. Use a serrated knife to cut edges off loaf cake to make a rectangular brick. Carefully cut cake sideways into three 1/2-in slices. Freeze slices in one layer on a baking sheet until ready to use.
2. To make icing, stir whipping cream with instant coffee and cocoa powder in a small bowl. Microwave for 15 seconds until cream is hot. Stir to dissolve coffee. In a large bowl, beat unsalted butter with an electric mixer until fluffy. Gradually beat in icing sugar, adding cream when it gets too thick. Set icing aside.
3. Place one slice of cake on a platter. Spread a thin layer of icing over cake. Top with wafer cookies. Spread with another thin layer of icing. Repeat with 2 more layers of cake, icing and wafers. Spread remaining icing over top and sides of cake. (It’s fine if it looks a bit messy as it will get covered in chocolate glaze.) Refrigerate cake for 30 minutes.
4. To make glaze, microwave whipping cream and butter for 15 to 30 sec until cream is hot. Pour over chopped milk chocolate in a bowl. Stir until chocolate is melted. Let the chocolate cool slightly. It will thicken up a bit.
5. Pour glaze on top of cake. Use a metal spatula to spread the glaze over top and sides of cake. Refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight.
6. Slice and enjoy!

Coffee Crisp Cake Recipe 2